As we know, with cinemas closed, a trip to the cinema isn’t on the cards right now, but perhaps you are not sure what films you would like to watch as a family? Here are our up-to-date guides of family films to watch, to keep the whole family entertained!
For when we venture back out to the cinema, the below film guides are written by Mike Davies especially with families and kids in mind. Everything from small scale films to great blockbusters for all the family PLUS trailers for upcoming films! Please note that not all 12A films are appropriate for younger children. Let’s Go With The Children offers a guide to what’s suitable for family viewing.
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With cinemas closed, many recent films are being released early to rent or buy as DVD, streaming and Video on Demand. Let’s Go With The Children will keep you up to date with what you can buy, access or download.
Four Kids and It (PG)
Published in 1902, Edith Nesbit’s fantasy-adventure Five Children remains a popular family favourite and was most recently adapted for the screen in 2004 starring Freddie Highmore, Tara FitzGerald, Zoë Wanamaker, Kenneth Branagh ad Eddie Izzard. Now comes a sequel of sorts, adapted from Jacqueline Wilson’s 2012 updating the tale in Four Children and It, here restyled as Kids. The premise is pretty much the same. Two sets of kids, bookish Ros (Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen) and her Nintendo-obsessed young brother Robbie (Billy Jenkins) and cute toddler Maudie (Ella-Mae Siame) and her belligerent would-be cool tweenie sister Smash (Ashley Aufderheide), are reluctantly taken on a seaside holiday by their respective separated father and mother, Brit David (Matthew Goode) and American Alice (Paula Patton). Horrified to learn the two are now dating, something they only announce after arriving separately, there’s inevitable friction. Especially between the two older girls, Ros hoping her mum and dad will get back together and stroppy Smash angry at her mother and desperate to live with her idealised but never there for her father.
When Smash runs off in a temper, the other three follow and find themselves on a hidden beach where they’re amazed (not seemingly not a great deal) to be confronted by the Psammead, the ancient squat and hairy floppy-eared sand fairy Ros has read about in the Nesbit book she was given at the start of the film. The story, it seems, was true. Caught by the kids, the Psammead, who collects ‘offerings’ (like Maudie’s shoe) from those who come to his territory and is voiced in chirpy Cockney geezer manner by Michael Caine, is now obliged to grant them one wish a day; the downside being it only lasts until sundown. As in the books, in granting the wish the Psammead holds its breath, swells in size and, since this is a kids’ film, then farts.
Since Smash has snatched his Nintento and stuck it up on the cliff, Robbie takes the first wish and goes scaling the rocks, only to get stuck when the sun goes down, prompting his sister to come to the rescue. Attention-seeking Smash has the second, and transports the others to London’s O2 Arena to see her perform as an international pop star, unfortunately leaving them stranded and having to get a train back to Penzance, much to their parents’ distress and annoyance, while Maudie wishes they could all fly, an ability that strikes Ros at an inopportune moment. In turn, her wish is to go back in time to meet the children in the original book and ask if it’s possible to get a wish that doesn’t run out, so she can reunite their parents with their respective estranged other halfs forever. Unfortunately, it’s this that, in a new addition to Wilson’s story, sees her cross paths with Lord Tristan (Russell Brand), the ancestor of the local foppish eccentric toff (also Tristan) and endangered creatures collector who lives in the clifftop mansion and which sets in motion his quest to capture the Psammead, one his descendent is determined to fulfil.
It’s no masterpiece, but it is all old-fashionedly rather sweet (Tristan actually gets his trousers set on fire and cools off in a water trough”) with the kids, who don’t start out as especially likeable, learning to think about others not just themselves, Goode and Patton making an amusing but endearing couple, Brand proving surprisingly relatively restrained and not insufferable (though parents may have to explain what he means by “ethnically insensitive erotica”) and Caine clearly having fun with a CGI creature that, in the final stretch, the film clearly takes on an ET quality as the kids try and keep him safe. Good fun. (Sky Cinema)
The Call Of The Wild (PG)
Published back in 1903, Jack London’s wilderness novel became an instant classic and, while less read these days, has been adapted for the screen five times. This, the sixth, is the live-action debut by How to Train Your Dragon director Chris Sanders and with Spielberg’s go-to cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, though it should be said from the start that all of the animals are CGI. Not that you would know it.
When it opens, Buck (a motion-capture performance by Terry Notary), is the huge and highly intelligent St. Bernard/Scotch Collie pet of a Santa Clara judge in 1890s California, his exuberance often causing chaos. Then, one night, he’s dognapped and sold on to become part of a sled team for gold prospectors in the Yukon, Alaska. Arriving in Skagway, it’s here he first encounters grizzled old timer John Thornton (a heavily bearded Harrison Ford, who also narrates), who’s abandoned civilization and his wife following the death of his young son, and is then bought by French-Canadian Perraut (Omar Sy) who, along with wife Françoise (Cara Gee), runs a mail-delivery route for the U.S. government, and becomes part of his dog sled team, eventually progressing to become lead dog after defeating the resentful alpha male Siberian husky, Spitz.
When, after some exhilarating sled scenes, an avalanche and a rescue from a river, the mail route is scrapped, Buck’s path once again crosses paths with Thornton who rescues him from his latest master, a cruel city type (Dan Stevens hamming it with tartan plaid and panto villain moustache) who has come in search of gold with his marginally less unpleasant wife (a virtual cameo by Karen Gillan), but clearly has no idea of how to survive in the outdoors.
The film now spends its remaining time with the tender and often amusing bonding between Buck and Thornton, as the former helps the latter reconnect with life (and stops him drinking), while Buck, feeling his canine heritage (cue frequent appearances by some black wolf spirit guide), also pals up with the local timber wolf pack, among them his white four-footed romantic interest. Meanwhile, Dan is on their trail bent on revenge, though quite how he manages to track them down is a mystery.
The film deviates hugely from the book towards the end, but otherwise remains a faithful adaptation, certainly in spirit, and, even though he’s a digital creation, Buck is utterly adorable while the landscapes are often breathtaking even though they too are largely CGI. Heed the call, this is a real family treat. (On demand platforms)
Following swiftly on the heels of Little Women, photographer and video director Autumn de Wilde makes her feature debut with the latest adaptation of Jane Austen’s much loved novel about an inveterate matchmaker who, in trying to pair up others, is oblivious to her own feelings. A faithful account of the novel, it’s stuffed with familiar faces, headed up by Anya Taylor-Joy who transitions from horror to rom-com as the titular heroine, bringing the right amount of insufferable smugness, snobbery and pout while still remaining sympathetic to her blindness regarding the inappropriateness of her self-appointed meddling in others’ lives as “the greatest amusement in the world”. Case in point being her younger and less socially elevated (she doesn’t know who her father is) hero-worshipping friend Harriet (Mia Goth), a student at the local boarding school, who she dissuades from accepting a proposal from tenant farmer Robert Martin (Connor Swindells) convinced that the preening village preacher, Mr. Elton (Josh O’Connor), loves her. It’s just the first of several misreadings that end up causing people heartache, while her cutting comment to the scatterbrained Miss Bates (Miranda Hart) reinforces her unthinking lack of sensitivity to those she considers beneath her.
Even before he finally puts in an appearance, Emma’s attracted to Frank Churchill (Callum Turner), the self-absorbed absent son of well-to-do Mr Weston (Rupert Graves), the widower whose marriage to her former governess (Gemma Whelan) she engineered. So, when he does turn up, she’s put out to discover that he’s acquainted with Bates’ niece, Jane Fairfax (Amber Anderson), especially given her resentment of always being disadvantageously compared to her (to be fair, Jane is much better pianist), all the while oblivious to the fact, behind their bickering banter, her handsome gentleman friend and neighbour (and in-law, since he’s the brother to her sister Isabella’s long suffering husband) , George Knightley (actor-musician Johnny Flynn who wrote and sings the end credits song), who, despite recognising and often admonishing her flaws, is besotted with her, though, in strict rom com tradition, it does take time (cue significant dance scene moment) for him to realise it too.
All this plays out with sparkling wit and charm that draws both the humour and subtle social commentary from Austen’s novel, the chemistry among the leads complemented by note perfect support turns from Bill Nighy as Emma’s hypochondriac father and Sex Education star Tanya Reynolds as the pretentious new Mrs.Elton. A candybox delight to the eye as well as enjoyable romantic fluff with just a pinch of spice, it’s well worth a flutter of the heart. (Digital platforms)
Frozen II (U)
Set three years on, Elsa (Idina Menzel), still romantically unattached, now rules Arendell, snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) is now all permafrost and the hunky but still somewhat oafish Kristoff is trying to summon up the courage to propose to the apparently insecure Anna (Kristen Bell). Not that you need reminding, but Elsa’s the one with the magic ice powers. However, why her? That’s the engine that drives the narrative, the film opening with a childhood flashback as their now late parents, King Agnarr (Alfred Molina) and Queen Iduna (Evan Rachel Wood), tell them a bedtime story about Ahtohalla, an enchanted forest to the north, ruled by the spirits of earth, air, fire and water and how, 34 years earlier, their grandfather sought to forge a pact with the indigenous Northuldra, building a dam to hold back the sacred river mentioned in mum’s lullaby, only for hostilities to inexplicably break out, leading the forest and its inhabitants to be imprisoned by a wall of mist, but not before the young Agnarr was rescued by a girl from the tribe.
Now, the grown Elsa is hearing a voice calling her, so she determines to set off, as the other vaguely memorable song puts it, Into The Unknown, accompanied, naturally by Anna, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven the reindeer. As such, it’s a sort of origin story, though the revelations are unlikely to come as much of a surprise to any alert six year old while getting there and learning the truth of what happened, albeit featuring a cute flaming salamander and a water horse, is something of a plodding and slightly incohesive affair, punctuated by a running gag about Kristoff’s failed attempts to propose.
The first film’s theme of finding yourself gets a retread, this time in the context of growing up and transitions (indeed, Olaf sings When I Am Older and philosophises on impermanence and the core cast warble how Some Things Never Change) and characters find themselves in mortal peril in protecting others (it flirts with darkness but anything bad that happens ultimately unhappens), but it’s not until the final act that the thing really catches fire. The animation is, of course, first rate, especially the scenes underwater, the characters remain likeable and the mix of sentiment, action and humour is about right, but, while this is undeniably great family fun, the thaw is setting in. (Disney +)
Military Wives (PG)
Following on from Fisherman’s Friends, here’s another feelgood true story adaptation of people coming together to make music. Directed by Peter Cattaneo, whose The Full Monty also serves as a template, as does Calendar Girls, it tells the story of the first group of military wives, later to feature in the Gareth Malone BBC series, to form an amateur choir to help them cope with things while their partners were away on active duty. Indeed, the closing credits feature the dozens of similar choirs that have sprung up worldwide. In the film’s case, it’s the women at a fictional army base where, in the opening, the soldiers are departing for Afghanistan, leaving the spouses to find ways of passing the time and not thinking about what might happen, especially when, as here, communications are down. As, respectively, the starched, prim and proper wife of the ranking officer (Greg Wise) and the down to earth Irish wife of the staff sergeant, it’s the job of Kate (Kristen Scott Thomas), who recently lost her son in combat, and Lisa (Sharon Horgan), who runs the base’s convenience store, to organise activities, such as knitting (a disaster) or painting. Then newly arrived newlywed Sarah (Amy James-Kelly) suggests forming a choir, prompting Kate (who wants to sing classics and hymns) to take charge, ostensibly delegating to Lisa (who favours pop hits, like Only You and Time After Time), but unable to avoid butting in, naturally prompting ongoing friction between the pair that comes to a head as the film launches into its third act.
Utterly predictable (chaotic rehearsals gradually gel into a decent ensemble, personalities clash, someone’s husband dies) and full of stock characters (bossy one, hot-headed one, tone deaf one, Cockney one, shy one with a great voice – Welsh, inevitably) that include Jason Flemyng in the thankless underwritten role as the base commander, it winds a path from a public debut that goes horribly wrong to the finale where, after a bust-up between Kate and Lisa over lyrics used in their self-penned song drawn from the wives’ letters sent and received, they head to London after being invited to perform at the Royal Albert Hall Festival of Remembrance, complete with one member’s race against the clock in a clapped out car to join them.
Scrappily told with an undeveloped and unexplained subplot plot involving friction between Lisa and her mouthy teenage daughter (India Ria Amarteifio), nevertheless, for all its manipulative sentimentality and formulaic crowd-pleasing feel good moments, it emerges as a heartwarming, inspirational and touching tale of female friendship and how, as the song has it, they are ‘stronger together’ and that, like the choir, ultimately hits all the right notes. (Streaming platforms, e.g. Amazon Prime, Curzon, Google Play, iTunes, TalkTalk TV)
The latest outing from Pixar may not reach the emotional heights or inspired storytelling of the Toy Story series, but, even so, it’s still leagues above its rivals in the family animation stakes. It takes a familiar and well-tested coming-of-age scenario about chalk and cheese siblings learning to work together and understand each other as well as dealing with loss and hurt and gives it a fantasy setting in a world where magic once ruled but has fallen into disuse with the rise of technology such as lightbulbs and planes. Now unicorns scavenge in New Mushroomton’s dustbins and dragons are family pets.
Directed by Dan Scanlon the protagonists are elfin brothers Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland), an awkward, insecure teenager overshadowed by his extrovert stoner-like metal-head older brother Barley (Chris Pratt), a snarky role-playing fantasy gamer and history nut who believes the games are based on old realities and drives a battered van he’s dubbed Gwniver. Together, they live with their outgoing widowed mom, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who’s dating macho centaur cop Colt Bronco (Mel Rodriguez).
On Ian’s 16th birthday, mom presents him with something left by their late father (Scanlon lost his own father when he was one and has no memories of him), which turns out to be a wizard’s staff, a gem and instructions on how to bring Dad back to life for a day. Naturally, Barley assumes he has the necessary magic powers, but it turns out that they actually run in Ian’s DNA. Unfortunately, he’s not quite up to the task and the spell falls apart midway, leaving dad as just a pair of legs, prompting the brothers to set off on a quest to find a second gemstone to complete the spell and finally meet and say goodbye to their father before the sunsets.
So, dressing the trousers up Weekend at Bernie’s style with a puffy jacket floppy torso and sunglasses, the pair hit the road (Ian wants to take the shortest route, Barley the path of peril) as the film unfolds into an episodic quest adventure, Bronco and mom in pursuit, that variously involves a run in with a biker gang of tiny flightless pixies, the Manticore (Octavia Spencer), the fabled lion-scorpion-bat warrior whose titular tavern is now a cheesy themed fast food joint that contains the map to the gem’s location (she and mom teaming up as a formidable double act to get to the boys before they unwittingly unleash the curse) and a somewhat rushed climax that pits everyone against a giant rock dragon made up of the town’s demolished school. There are some delightful moments en route, including a dance scene between brothers and dad’s legs and disguise cloak that only works if the wearer tells the truth (making for an awkward brotherly moment), as Ian learns to become more confident and eventually realise the strength of his relationship with Barley who’s essentially tried to be the dad he never had. It’s not Up, but it’s definitely facing the right direction. (Digital downloads now and Disney + from Apr 3)
Sonic The Hedgehog (PG)
Surprisingly not the disaster that was anticipated, especially given it had to go back to the drawing board and redesign the look of its titular Sega character after fans were up in arms, this is the latest video game to become a live action feature film, and, mercifully, much better than the abject failure that was Super Mario Bros.
After a cursory back story explaining who this furry blue alien speedball is and why he’s on earth, director Jeff Fowler gets on with the film’s two narratives, the mismatched buddy one as the lonely Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwarz) accidentally causes a major power outage across the entire Pacific Northwest that sees him teaming up with Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), the sheriff in the small town of Green Hills who wants to move to San Francisco so he can get to save somebody’s life and who, dubbed the Do-Nut Lord, Sonic has been secretly stalking (along with Tom’s veterinarian wife, an underused Tika Sumpter) in order to feel part of a surrogate family. The second is, of course, the pursuit of the hero by the crazy megalomaniac bad guy, here in the form of cyber-genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey in, for once, enjoyably vintage over the top form with black coat and waxed panto villain moustache) and his drones, sent in by the military to capture the alien source.
All of which, after Tom pops Sonic with a tranquillizer dart that causes his bag of transporter rings to fall through a portal, means they have to head for San Francisco and recover them, Robotnik on their tail, bonding while checking off Sonic’s bucket list, which includes starting a bar fight with a bunch of bikers.
Lighthearted and hugely enjoyable, it romps along with some pretty decent visual effects and a constant stream of rapid-fire quips from Sonic along with amusing in-jokes like him watching Speed on TV and reading Flash comics, as well as a message about the need for human contact. With a coda that promises a sequel that seems likely (and welcomingly) to happen, this may not be supersonic but it’s infinitely more fun than anyone could possibly have imagined. (Digital platforms)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (12)
Forty-two years after the saga began, JJ Abrams finally brings it to a close with a finale that is both exhilarating and, at times, almost incoherent in a sprawling narrative basically themed around questions of identity. Luke having been absorbed into the force in The Last Jedi, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is still doing her Jedi training while, having offed his dad in The Force Awakens, conflicted First Order commander Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) has forged a new alliance with the Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) who, despite being killed off in Episode III, is back and planning to wipe out all resistance and launch the Final Order, he just needs Ren to dispose of Rey. For a good two-thirds of the two hours plus running time, the overly busy plot races from one episode to the next and, while it looks visually stunning and the action sequences are thrilling, it’s not until the final stretch that the narrative coheres with some sort of clear purpose as they planet hop in search of some crystal that will lead them to Exogol, the hidden land of the Siths, and attempt to unravel a vital clue inscribed in Sith runes on a dagger which C-3PO is programmed not to translate.
Along the way, not only does Palpatine return from the dead, but there’s a couple of other significant cameos from hitherto deceased characters, along with the return to the saga for the first time since Return of the Jedi by Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), not to mention voice cameos from the likes of Yoda, Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader while the late Carrie Fisher appears as Leia courtesy of some clever archive footage manipulation. And, in keeping with past revelations about family blood lines, there’s another biggie of Luke/Vader proportions thrown in here too with flashbacks to the fate of Rey’s parents. Redemption, sacrifice, embracing/becoming one with the Force and a variety of character twists all pile up to give fans a massive thrill while also finding room to throw in new characters such as Richard E. Grant’s First Order general and Jannah (Naomi Ackie) as another First Order deserter, a conscript who refused to carry out a massacre, alongside the return of Poe (Oscar Isaac), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels) and Finn (John Boyega), who never does seem to get to tell Rey what he wanted to when he thought they were about to die.
The set pieces are awesome, most notably the final battle between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire’s fleet and a light sabre duel between Rey and Ren atop the remnants of a rusting, corroded hulk surrounded by towering waves while the last scene between the two of them and the coda manage to elicit an emotion that always eluded George Lucas, the final two words likely to have those who’ve taken the same journey to erupt into floods of tears. (Digital platforms and Disney+)
Storm Boy (PG)
Required to attend a board meeting of the company he once owned, and now run by his widowed son-in-law, Malcolm (Erik Thomson), who wants to lease land it owns on Australia’s western coast to a mining company, Michael Kingsley (Geoffrey Rush) is asked by his 17-year-old granddaughter, Maddy (Morgana Davies), who is opposed to her father’s plans and their ecological repercussions, to stop him. The meeting delayed on account of a storm, Michael and Maddy sit on the shore near her home and start talking, and he recounts the story of how he and his father (Jai Courtney), moved to live a reclusive life in a remote shack by the coast after his mother and sister died in an accident, and how he discovered three baby pelicans, orphaned by hunters, and, with the help of Fingerbone Bill (Trevor Jamieson), an elderly aboriginal, rescued them.
Taking them in and naming them Mr. Proud, Mr. Ponder and Mr. Percival, young Michael (Finn Little) raises them and even takes them shopping into the local town and teaches them to fly before sadly agreeing to his dad’s instructions to set them free. However, having formed a special bond, Mr. Percival, returns and he and Michael become inseparable companions, the bird even playing hide and seek with him. However, even when the bird becomes a celebrity after helping save Michael’s father from a storm at sea, danger still lurks in the form of a resentful hunter.
Adapted from Colin Thiele’s 1976 Australian children’s novella Storm Boy and given a present day framing device, it’s a gentle, often touching story of friendship given an added environmental protection theme. Well-acted and with some stunning landscapes, it’s one for families with slightly older children, 11 and above, and, whilst there’s tragedy and sadness in the backstory, the new ending offers an upbeat happy conclusion while it’s hard to not to be charmed and captivated by Mr Percival’s antics and the scenes of boy and bird cuddled together, its long neck around his shoulders. Fortunately, you can’t get one from the local pet shop. (Digital platforms from April 6)
Trolls World Tour (U)
Originally planned to open in cinemas on April 10, instead, this will be made available for video on demand. The sequel to the surprisingly fun 2016 hit, this brings back Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake as Queen Poppy and her best friend Branch who saved the Pop trolls world in the first film and now find themselves having to do it again. Except for this time, it’s not just Pop world.
As Poppy’s dad reveals, they’re not the only trolls. In fact, there were once six tribes, all of whom had a different type of music, pop, country, techno, funk, classical and rock (with apparently sub-tribes involving yodelling and K-pop trolls) who lived together until they began to argue about which music was better, leading to them all being split up and confined to their own lands, each with the string embodying their music from the universal guitar, their new generations unaware of the others’ existence.
But now, however, Queen Barb by Rachel Bloom from the Rock trolls is determined to reunite them all under one music – Hard Rock! But to do this, she needs to eliminate all other musical forms, starting with an invasion of the Techno trolls’ underwater rave party.
What follows is a sort of sugar rush on steroids with explosions of swirling and pulsating colour, psychedelic musical sequences and a virtual non-stop jukebox of familiar songs, from Girls Just Want To Have Fun to The Scorpions’ Rock You Like a Hurricane and Daft Punk’s One More Time. Also back on board among the voice cast is James Corden as Biggie with his pet worm Mr. Dinkles, Gwen Stefani as DJ Suki and Ron Funches as Cooper, the pink, green-capped giraffe-like troll who discovers just why he’s always felt a bit different to the other Pop trolls, while joining them are Kelly Clarkson as the Country trolls leader Delta Dawn (a joke country fans will get), Sam Rockwell as Country troll named Hickory, Jamie Dornan as a Smooth Jazz troll, called what else but Chas, George Clinton and Mary J. Blige as King Quincy and Queen Essence from the Funk trolls, Kenan Thompson as Tiny Diamond, the newborn hip-hop son of glittery Guy, and, inevitably, Ozzy Osbourne as Thrash, one of the Rock trolls.
Naturally, amid all of this, there’s a message about diversity, acceptance and inclusion being important (here, through music) if we want to live together as well as finding your inner happiness. Grown-ups might find it a bit of a headache to watch, but, in these days of gloom and isolation, realising that music can bring us all together has to be worth a watch. (Digital platforms, Video on Demand)
Little Women (U)
Louis May Allcott’s evergreen 19th century novel gets another rework as a coming of age dramady at the hands of director Greta Gerwig. Set during and after the American Civil War, it tells of the four March sisters, the eldest, family beauty Meg (Emma Watson), independent-minded aspiring writer Jo (Saoirse Ronan), petulant Amy (Florence Pugh) and piano-playing Beth (Eliza Scanlen), as they search to find their identities. Here, Jo is already tutoring in New York and working on becoming an author, hot-headed Amy is in Paris studying painting and acting as a companion to her cantankerous, imperious spinster aunt (Meryl Streep) who’s attempting to steer her into the marriage market, Meg has given up acting ambitions and is married to impoverished schoolteacher John Brooke (James Norton) with two kids, and Beth, the youngest, well, she’s the sickly tragic one. Laura Dern is quietly excellent as their mother, Marmie, trying to cope in reduced circumstances with her abolitionist husband (Bob Odenkirk) away at war serving as a chaplain, and Timothee Chalamet (who starred with Ronan in Lady Bird) is puckish, childhood friend Laurie who, living a dissolute life having fled to Europe heartbroken when Jo rejected his proposal, may well still be a flame in Amy’s heart, except, of course, she’s resentful of being second best to Jo. Meanwhile, Friedrich Bhaer, the German academic and Jo’s fatherly mentor in has been reinvented as a considerably younger French language professor romantic interest (Louis Garrel), although his forthright opinions on her work don’t get things off to a promising start, while Chris Cooper is perfectly cast as the family neighbour, Laurie’s grandfather, who takes a fatherly interest in Beth.
Its feminist note is struck early one as Jo negotiates the anonymous publication of one of her – or rather’ ‘a friend’s’ stories with Mr. Dashwood (Tracy Letts), editor of the Weekly Volcano, who advises that, if she has a heroine then she has to be married at the end, or dead, opting to retain her own copyright and haggling over the fee. The film’s title, of course, refers to the quasi autobiographical novel about her and her family’s life, one of sibling rivalry (including a particularly vindictive act by Amy) and romantic and health crises, and the scene of Jo watching it being assembled and printed is a wonderful reminder of an almost lost art.
It’s all a bit overly busy early on and the constant switching between past and present can prove confusing, but it eventually settles down, it looks terrific, the performances are uniformly excellent, with Ronan and Pugh especially brilliant, and staying true to the book’s knowing compromise of a happy ending while simultaneously celebrating female empowerment this is destined to become a modern classic. (Digital platforms from May 11, DVD from May 25)
Not all 12A films are appropriate for younger children. Let’s Go With The Children offers a guide to what’s suitable for family viewing.